On June 6th, my solo adventure to South East Asia began. My family came to pick me up from the airport and I lugged my 55-liter Osprey Fairpoint turtle shell into the car. As we drove to the airport, my dog Bean would not leave my side, as if she knew I was going away. Despite my protests, my parents kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to do this and reminded me that If I wanted to come home for any reason, at any time, they would find a way to fund a ticket for me.
When I got to the airport, my dad would not stop taking photos, as if he needed more to put on the milk carton advertisement he just knew was imminent. He snapped a photo of me as I walked away, and I remember feeling a rush of both fear and anticipation. Carrying my home on my back, I felt insular, disconnected from something greater I can’t truly describe. It was like I imagine floating into space would feel like.
I glided through the automatic doors, checked into the automatic ticket counter for Qatar Airlines and dropped off half of my backpack home at the check-in counter, praying I would see it again.
I found my way through the passport and bag checks to my gate. I grabbed my favorite soy chai latte beverage and curled up near the other passengers waiting for the plane. While I waited, I listened to a playlist I had been creating on Spotify for months – music that I loved and instantly sent to my queue without returning to it till my trip began. The list included but was not limited to The Sound of Siam Vol. 1, Traveling Song by Ryn Weaver, Pyrakantha by Balmorhea, and Young as the Morning Old as the Sea by Passenger It was like opening a sound present.
As I waited, it began to rain outside and I wondered if my flight would be delayed- I journaled :
“Airport is rainy but it’s as if Houston is saying goodbye in the best way it knows how…I got my 4 vaccination shots, paid rent, packed, organized and followed through with a clay education day for a few friends, and made it to the airport. I finally got the 10 days at the Mindfulness Project confirmed and I have couch surfers ready to host me for my layover in L.A. and in Bangkok. I worked so hard for this I can’t wait to travel the world. ”
The flight was on time and as I watched Houston travel into the distance, I remember feeling momentarily numb, as if someone else was on this adventure or that it was only a dream. It was the strangest feeling. I breathed deeply and pulled it in, using mindful breathing techniques, and then suddenly I felt so present, so alive. I felt like the blind character in the movie Amelie when he glows. The hairs on my skin stood up and I got chills. Reality and my dream were connecting and it was a gift I gave myself.